Kitchen design should revolve around needs

Kitchens are for working. A well-designed kitchen will help you enjoy cooking even more or, if you hate to cook, will at least make the task less painful.

Triangular workspaces will address kitchen tasks. The refrigerator should be placed adjacent to food-preparation surfaces, which in turn should be surrounded by storage for frequently used utensils.

Another triangle involves the range, which should be near storage for pots and pans as well as spices. The third leg of this area should include a working surface where food can be placed before and after cooking.

The next vital triangle is the dishwasher, placed next to the sink and storage for cleaning products.

Recommended counter space between the sink and the refrigerator is 4-7 feet. This way, you have a place to put dirty dishes while in transit to the dishwasher, and you also have space for items you have taken out of the refrigerator.

The real clue to a happy kitchen is the family's eating and cooking habits. If you're a gourmet type, plenty of counter space is essential. Extra electrical outlets are needed for all the small appliances used to prepare a fancy meal. All those special pots, pans and small appliances will require abundant storage.

If quick meals are more in keeping with your lifestyle, then you will need plenty of pantry space for packaged meals. Most of the surface space should be by the microwave.

Open kitchens are quite popular today because they invite company. Family and friends are more apt to help if the kitchen has a pass-through or, better yet, only a counter separating it from the dinette or family room. Food is nurturing; friendship is also. The open kitchen invites the mating of the two.

If your kitchen area is big enough to have an eating space, it is best if you can separate the two by a counter. This way you still have the open, inviting atmosphere, while separating the work area with the reward-reaping area. Another advantage is that the noncooking party can sit in the kitchen to do homework, read the newspaper, play cards or whatever, while the cook(s) attend to duties. Family members are together but not in each other's way. It's the old-fashioned country-kitchen feeling. You know, the kind memories are made of.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color."